PITTSBORO — Vicki McConnell, Chatham County’s deputy manager and finance director, will retire Feb. 19, after 45 years of service with the county — a feat honored by Chatham commissioners with …
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PITTSBORO — Vicki McConnell, Chatham County’s deputy manager and finance director, will retire Feb. 19, after 45 years of service with the county — a feat honored by Chatham commissioners with a resolution read at their meeting Monday night.
“Vicki McConnell has held several key positions in the Chatham County finance office during her tenure, and has served with distinction in each position,” Chairperson Mike Dasher read from the resolution. “Vicki McConnell will be greatly missed when she retires on Feb. 19, 2021, after over 44 years of service to Chatham County. Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners that we applaud Vicki McConnell’s accomplishments and contributions during her service and wish her a long and happy retirement.”
McConnell’s tenure in Chatham began in 1976, when she was hired as a part-time employee in the finance department. There, she served in multiple roles until being named finance director in 1982. She was named deputy county manager in 2015. During Monday’s board meeting, she joked that when she started in the finance department, they had no computers and checks were still typed out.
“In November we had computers, but we couldn’t use them and we had to write manual checks because we didn’t have typewriters,” she said with a laugh, referring to the Oct. 28 cyber attack that temporarily shut down much of the county’s network.
“When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” she added. “Thanks, everyone, for making me want to come to work, almost every day, it’s been a pleasure working with such a special group of people.”
During her time with the county, McConnell played “an instrumental role” in the computerization of county finance records, said the county’s Tuesday release regarding her retirement. While she was finance director, the department received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for 30 consecutive years.
At the meeting Monday, she credited her staff for making her job enjoyable and successful.
“They say all good things must come to an end, and I’m looking to whatever lies ahead for me,” she said, telling staff in the news release that included completing home projects, spending more time at the lake and playing pickleball. “Working here has been both an honor and a privilege. Thank you all very much.”
Assistant Finance Officer Hope Tally has been appointed as interim finance director, according to the release. She has worked with the county for 19 years. On Monday, County Manager Dan LaMontagne, who’s been with the county since 2010, thanked McConnell not only for her work, but for her friendship.
“Thank you for your counsel and for your friendship and for the hard work you’ve done for the county,” he said, “and I wish you the very best in retirement.”
The rest of the meeting
During Monday’s meeting, the board also heard legislative public hearings, approved a request for subdivision Final Plat review, heard a quarterly budget update and presentation on the Oct. 28 cyber incident.
The board heard two public hearings. The first — general use rezoning request by Brendie Vega, on behalf of Moncure Holdings LLC & Moncure Holdings West LLC, to rezone in full or a portion of approximately 249.036 acres total of multiple parcels located off Old U.S. 1, Pea Ridge Road, Christian Chapel Church Road, and Moncure Flatwood Road in Cape Fear Township — was closed referred to the county’s planning board, which will discuss the request at its March meeting.
The second hearing was also closed and referred to the Environmental Review Advisory Committee/Watershed Review for its March meeting. That request, also by Moncure Holdings LLC and Moncure Holdings West LLC, is to amend Section 302 (E)(2)(b) of the Watershed Protection Ordinance, to establish an overlay district where the 10/70 rule applies in the Cape Fear WS-IV Protected Area watershed district and amend the Watershed Protection Map to establish the boundaries of the overlay district.
The board also approved a request for subdivision Final Plat review by Mark Ashness, P.E., on behalf of Laurel Ridge Development Inc. as well as approval of Laurel Ridge Phase 2B, consisting of 14 lots on 67 acres, located off Old NC 87.
Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek provided the board with a COVID-19 update.
“This week we’ve kind of changed the format,” LaMontagne said of the COVID-19 update portion of the meeting, “because the funding, the outreach, and the health concerns are all within the vaccination clinics that are very successful right now, and I’ll turn it over to Mike to tell you more.”
Zelek said the department is continuing to work to distribute vaccinations, and reminded the board that the department is one of three vaccine providers in Chatham, with Piedmont Health and Chatham Hospital receiving other supplies. He estimated that about 5,000 Chatham residents in Groups 1 and 2 (healthcare workers and individuals 65 or older) still needed to be vaccinated before the county could begin vaccinating school staff and childcare workers eligible on Feb. 24 under Group 3. About two-thirds of vaccinated Chatham residents received a vaccine outside of Chatham, Zelek said, adding that many healthcare workers were vaccinated in their counties of work and older residents likely made appointments in other locations as well.
Budget Analyst Darrell Butts presented a revised second quarter budget update, which he said contained much of the same information presented at the board’s January retreat. He stressed that revenue from the county’s sales tax was strong and continued to “exceed all of our expectations.”
“I think the takeaway is we are in a good spot due to careful management of expenditures, and continued healthy sales tax collections and property tax collections,” he said.
The board unanimously approved a one-time payment to permanent employees — $100 a month from March to December — working out to a $1,000 bonus, in consideration of this fiscal year’s budget elimination of employee pay adjustments and in recognition of employees’ efforts during pandemic response. Part-time employees will also receive a bonus based on the time they’ve worked, LaMontagne said.
“Absolutely, we want to do that,” Commissioner Karen Howard said.
The board concluded with a presentation by LaMontagne on the Oct. 28 cyber incident and an effort by Commissioner Franklin Gomez Flores to have the county avoid publishing its tax listings with the News + Record. For that report, see this week’s front-page cyber attack story update.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.